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  • Writer's pictureGary Lloyd

How to challenge assumptions like a zen master

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk. Before his stroke, at the end of 2014, he used to do question and answer sessions at retreats his order hosted. The one-minute video below is an extract from one of those sessions.

Although you might not be able to wield the authority of a Zen Master, you can still follow his example when you find yourself in disagreement with someone. 

"Are you sure?" is a gentle, nonconfrontational approach to challenging assumptions.

Of course, the other person might respond that they are indeed sure, but your question will have gently opened the door to ask how they arrived at those assumptions.

But perhaps even more importantly, it's a question you can ask yourself before you enter a contentious discussion. I'm not suggesting you avoid entering a debate unless you are sure. However, if you ask yourself am I sure before you speak, you might find yourself softening your entry into contentious conversations.

You find out more about Thich Nhat Hanh and his philosophy on the Plum Village website and see and hear more from him on the Plum Village Youtube Channel.

My new book Gardeners not Mechanics: how to cultivate change at work will be out soon. Follow this link to find out more and sign up for a free PDF review copy.



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